Last evening, I briefly read Swain's Techniques of A Selling Writer and discovered a chapter on feelings and transmitting those feelings to the reader. It is one of the reasons why I do like going back over writing books. I know I have read the chapter before because some of the jokes irritated me. HOWEVER the substance of what he had to say was important. And for some reason this chapter resonated with me last night in a way it hadn't before.
The main way readers view events are how they affect the focal character. The focal character provides the emotional compass for the reader and the focal character is the character that draws a series of unrelated events together. In order to understand the events of the story, they need to be filtered through the emotional lens of a character. The character is the character that the reader identifies most with and there is generally just one in a story. The focal character does not have to be the viewpoint character, although it is easier if the majority of the POV is in his/her POV simply for identification purposes. Swain uses the example of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes is the focal character while Dr Watson is the viewpoint character. Personally I would argue some of Watson's emotional colouring and compass does effect the way of the reader views the story, but that may just be me.
With my books (and the vast majority of romances), the main focal character is the heroine. The reader needs to be able to identify with the heroine and her struggle. It is her interpretation of events that is the driving factor in the story. The hero is her hero. In Taken, the main focal character is Annis with Haakon being the second focal character.
It is all about creating emotions and feelings. Events that happen can either be good or bad depending on the emotional justification. The raid on Lindisfarne is an event. It is the reaction of the characters to that event that colours the novel. Without the emotion and the emotional compass of the main characters, readers can not interpret the events. To put in McKee terms, the events apply the pressure that force characters to make choices. It is through those choices that the deep character is revealed. And as McKee points out -- readers are always looking for a character to identify with.
Anyway, I thought it interesting.